Class is in session for Senators rookies

In one sense, it’s back-to-school time for Ottawa Senators prospects.

In one sense, it’s back-to-school time for Ottawa Senators prospects.

After a practice in Ottawa Wednesday, the organizational hopefuls will leave for London, Ont., and a three-game tournament against rookies from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks beginning Thursday and wrapping up Sunday.

At the same time, however, it hasn’t been a case of the players being out of sight, out of mind all summer. Following a development camp in early July, the prospects have followed organizational guidelines on how to get better, including everything from improving their strength to embracing better eating habits. There has been regular feedback throughout the summer.

“We have more expectations after that development camp,” said Randy Lee, Senators director of hockey operations and player development. “It’s all the things they need to learn about being a pro, and we’re pretty precise on what we want (each player) to work on.”

Lee, director of player personnel Pierre Dorion and conditioning coach Chris Schwarz handed each player three “priority areas” to develop.

“We want them to learn to do certain things … and not things they like to do,” said Lee. “They stay in contact with me and the conditioning guys, but the calibre of questions they ask is outstanding. They’re so well-educated, they’re so well-informed, asking why they need to do certain things.”

Lee says the games against their peers from Toronto, Chicago and Pittsburgh will give the organization a snapshot of how well the players have addressed their shortcomings.

Keep in mind the talent and experience level varies wildly. The rookie camp includes Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the 20-year-old centre who appears to have an inside track on a spot with the Senators this season after a brilliant playoff performance last spring that included a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens. Two others — Mark Stone and Derek Grant — have also played big league games for the Senators.

Jarrod Maidens, a centre selected in the third round (82nd overall) of the 2012 draft, won’t be camp due to ongoing concussion problems. Left winger Jakub Culek (76th overall in the 2010 draft) won’t take part in games or contact drills due to a shoulder injury.

kwarren@ottawacitizen.com
Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren

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